Japan, Australia to sign security cooperation pact

Japan and Australia are set to sign a treaty to strengthen bilateral defense and security cooperation at a virtual summit on Thursday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in a statement on Wednesday that he and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio will sign a Reciprocal Access Agreement.

The pact will set the framework for the handling of weapons and ammunition and the response to unexpected incidents and accidents. It will apply when Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military hold joint drills and other activities in each other's country.

Australia will be the first country with which Japan signs such a pact, other than the United States. Japan and the US already have a Status of Forces Agreement.

Morrison said, "This treaty will be a statement of our two nations' commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we face and to contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific."

Australia apparently wants stronger security ties with Japan to curb China's maritime activities.

Morrison added that the Australia-Japan partnership reflects their shared values and their commitment to democracy and human rights.

He also expressed hope for expanded cooperation within the so-called Quad alliance which comprises Japan, Australia, the US and India.